PGA Betting Guide for the American Express
Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.
Below, we will cover the best bets for the American Express based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Our event this week is a Pro-Am with three courses that golfers will rotate through over the first three days with an amateur before the final 65 play the harder course again on Sunday. These courses are big time birdie-fests, and that scoring variance creates opportunities for extreme long shots. Last year's out-of-nowhere winner, Adam Long, and 2017's champion, Hudson Swafford, paid off juicy numbers, though notably Jon Rahm cleaned house in 2018 and kept the stragglers at bay.
With limited star power at the top of the market, we can identify a few long shots and spread around a little cash for a potentially huge return.
For more info on the Stadium Course, the Nicklaus Course, and La Quinta Country Club, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.
At the Top
The +2500 and under tier is made up of just four golfers, none of whom have the best reputation for closing.
Rickie Fowler (+900) and Paul Casey (+1800) are known more for their near misses than their wins, though each grabbed a win in 2019. Fowler simply does not measure up to the best of the best in the world because he just doesn't collect the hardware like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, or Justin Thomas. He's played this event just twice in his career -- a missed cut in 2010 and T33 in 2014, both before the Stadium Course even entered the rotation -- and this feels more like a Tour obligation than a chance for a win.
And for all his consistency of made cuts and top-20s, Casey has only actually won at one track on the PGA Tour over the past decade, and friends, we are about as far away from the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook as we can possibly be.
While Tony Finau (+2000) looks enticing considering he's currently offered at a price not much longer than this (+3300) to win at the freaking Masters this year, he has never won a primary field event and doesn't really get close all that often. He has just eight top-3 finishes in 148 career events (5.4%). Compare that to guys who #NeverWin like Fowler (26 top-3s in 237 career events; 11%) and even Casey (17 of 265; 6.4%), and it becomes very hard to back Tony at this price.
Which leaves us with...
Sungjae Im (+1400) - It would be too perfect for Sungjae to get his win when the return is minimal and everyone is off him after he's been a favorite not just in this space but across the industry. He hasn't won on Tour yet but picked up a win in Korea a few weeks back and had two victories on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2018 before earning his PGA card. He plays a ton but has knocked on the door a few times already, with three top-3s in his first 44 events (6.8%). It's hard to back a young player at this price when Long won last year at something close to a billion to one, but we'll be kicking ourselves if we miss out on Im's breakthrough, and the top of the market is extremely thin. The faint of heart can also look to him for a Top-10 Finish (+185).
Scottie Scheffler (+3300) - Scheffler has one of the best statistical profiles in this field. According to stats on Fantasy National Golf Club, he is fourth in strokes gained: tee to green, sixth in birdies or better gained, and ninth in strokes gained: approach. He should be brimming with confidence in his first action in 2020 after a strong swing season that saw him find the top-20 five times in seven starts. His most recent effort was a T5 at the RSM Classic, another event where golfers rotate courses. The Pro-Am angle is the great unknown, but he was a birdie machine on the Korn Ferry Tour and is well suited for these friendly scoring environments.
J.T. Poston (+4100) - Is it likely that Poston, with just six top-10 finishes in 87 career events, can win twice in the span of 12 starts? Probably not, but he's fairly priced and something just seems right for him this week. He struggled in the gusty Sony Open and lost 2.5 strokes with his approaches. But his iron play is a strength, and the last time he lost that many strokes, he followed it up with a win at the Wyndham Championship where he gained 6.8 strokes on approaches. With a T7 finish last year at this event and a strong fall including a trip to the Tournament of Champions, Poston is due for an overcorrection and might just defy the odds this week.
Henrik Norlander (+10000) - Norlander putted the lights out last week at the Sony Open on the way to a T9 finish, his second consecutive top-10. Generally we don't chase outlier putting rounds, but Norlander is locked in, and his iron play is usually his strength. If he's stroking it with confidence on the green and the approach play clicks, he has major upside on these cakewalk courses. He leads the field in strokes gained on par 5s over his last 50 rounds, and even if he regresses a bit with the putter, he'll have plenty of birdie and eagle opportunities, especially on the La Quinta and Nicklaus Courses.
Matthew NeSmith (+13000) - Most of the dart throws at 80/1 or longer are retreads who are priced in or around that range every week and never come close to breaking through. So we'll finish up with another Korn Ferry grad to go with Scheffler and Norlander. NeSmith won the penultimate event of the Korn Ferry season and earned his Tour card, nabbing two top-20s since then. He led the KFT in greens in regulation percentage in 2019.